Chris Loomis

INTERVIEW: Christian Machado of Ill Niño

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IllNino_TomValdez_1SoCalMusicToday.com recently caught up with Christian Machado lead singer for Latin Metal Titans Ill Niño. Machado along with his Ill Niño bandmates are gearing up to play The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival this summer and bring their high energy show to the Victory Records second stage across the country.  Machado tells us about what it’s like being part of Mayhem Festival this summer, his preparation routines for playing early in the daytime and speaks about the band’s new album Till Death: La Familia to be released on Victory Records July 22.

SoCalMusicToday.com will have full coverage (Photo Gallery and Live Review) of the kickoff of the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival on July 5 in San Bernardino, CA including coverage of Ill Niño.

Congratulations on being included on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2014. How does it feel to be part of the biggest traveling extreme music festival?

We are honored to be included in this one-of-a-kind American music festival. It’s been a very long time since Ill Niño took part in any US summer festival. You could say we are one of the veterans on the bill since we’ve been around for such a long time. We are hoping to make some new fans this summer with a high energy show that plays some of our best tracks. We are very grateful that Victory Records and the Mayhem Festival have called on us to come along.

How do you prepare for going out on a five week summer tour? Things like living in a van/bus together, keeping your focus on the music and just not getting totally distracted by your surroundings?

We are a band that has toured for a decade or so. I think at this point in our career, touring life has become second nature. Speaking personally, this tour might be slightly difficult to swallow as I am leaving behind my five-month-old daughter for my longest travel yet. I’ll surely be abusing FaceTime but it obviously is not the same.

On the road I am mostly a creature of habit, I try to do things that make me feel at home whether it’s talking to my family, reading, or watching a good documentary. There was a time when complete party debauchery was all we thought about, but times change and family is far and beyond the most important thing on our minds when we travel.

I am not the only one in the band who is leaving behind family. I think the fact that our lives have changed so drastically certainly raises the stakes, we are not only wanting to impress the festival going American audiences but we also want to make our families proud. I know we will easily be able to focus on the main reason we are there, to put on killer shows every day, everything else is a sacrifice that you have to make in order to be a rock n’ roller.

I am very excited to see many good friends on this tour and I’m looking forward to watching some great bands perform at Mayhem. My personal preparation will most likely be minimal, when I think about what is truly necessary, I could only think of a couple of things: my stage clothes, my Pro-Tools rig, comfortable pillows, and pictures of my family.

Does playing early in the day pose any challenges vs playing in the evening or at night? It’s probably going to be pretty dam hot at the time when you take the stage.

There are advantages and disadvantages to performing at 2 PM every day. On one side of the coin it’s great to get the show out of the way early and still have time to enjoy the rest of the day. But on the other side of the coin, speaking as a vocalist, it is a little rough having to get up early in order to warm up properly and sing to the best of my ability. As I said earlier, I am a creature of habit, most of my touring career has been experienced around headlining shows near 10pm or so. Waking up early is going to be imperative for me. The heat is certainly not the biggest issue as we have played some venues that are literally a sauna and very little oxygen is to be had.

Luckily, our stage is outdoors where plenty of oxygen exists, thank you trees! I think having a good routine will help, getting up early every morning, going for a jog, having some breakfast, and doing some vocal scales. I am sure most of the other guys in the band will not be waking up until 1 PM every day but sadly I can’t afford such a limited space of time to prepare my voice for the show. Damn it, I should have stayed behind the bass!

Ill Niño has a new album Till Death: La Familia that drops July 22 on Victory Records. What can we expect from that album and how does it compare to past ILL NINO records?

You can expect a great Ill Niño album, that’s for sure. We worked very hard under a strict deadline and it turned out amazing. Till Death, La Familia is definitely different from all our other releases but that is what we strive for. I can honestly say it has some of our greatest work yet. I think this album truly holds some very precious content that will connect with many people.

Vocally speaking, it was sincerely a pleasure for me to focus solely on vocal patterns, melodies, and lyrics. For the first time in my musical career I did not write any music and was not involved with any of the recording details. I worked with an amazing engineer/producer named Eddie Wohl and I can honestly say I don’t ever want to do an album the old way again. Focusing purely on the vocals is just what I needed at this point in my career.

I have to give most of the credit to my guitar player Ahrue and my bass player Laz for writing some very intense and heartfelt music. I was able to become a fan of their songs and it allowed me to approach my vocal writing from a very simplistic music fan point of view. The topics on this album are vast and I truly poured my heart out without having to torture myself while seeking creativity. The guys in the band really served me a golden platter on which to layer. I hope I did the music justice and that I hope our fans are proud.

What is the meaning behind the title of the new album Till Death: La Familia? How was that chosen to be the album title?

Very early on our bass player Laz had a great idea for including the saying “La Familia” in the album title. At first I don’t think the words were connecting with the entire band but once we started throwing around different ideas it began to inspire all of us. Nearing the album title deadline, I had several catchphrase options that included “La Familia”, “Till Death, La Familia” being one of them. Sometimes words find their way into our hearts and decisions are very simple to make. That was the case with our album title.

To me the title represents our appreciation for every Ill Niño fan that has stood by us since the beginning. In many ways it also represents the brotherhood/sisterhood that they carry amongst each other. For me personally, it also embodies the love and admiration that I have for my family. In January of this year my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and I couldn’t imagine a better title to describe my feelings at the moment, till death, la familia!!

The second stage bands usually get shorter set times (usually about 25 minutes). What can fans expect from Ill Niño during your set? How many songs from the new album will you be playing?

I am hoping to play at least 2 new songs. I know many fans will want to hear older material but I just can’t stress enough how good the new songs are. I really feel the whole world needs to hear them. You can expect a high energy, ear-catching show. We don’t expect any of the other bands to be slacking and therefore in this friendly competition amongst our peers we want to bring the fire. After all there are a lot of great bands on this bill and not only do we want to impress the audience we also want to impress our friends and family.

Will Ill Niño be doing any meet n greets with the fans during the tour?

We will absolutely be doing meet and greets however I am not sure what times during the festival we will be signing. For any signing tent details you may have to go and check scheduled times the day of the festival. I do know that some of the signings will be for Revolver Magazine. And, of course you can expect to see us at the Coldcock Whiskey Booth and our merchandise tent. Do make some time to say hi!

What do you pack when going out on a summer tour? Any “special” items you bring that you can’t live without such as a special teddy bear or a special pillow? Any photos of family or pets?

No teddy bears but yes, plenty of family photos. Luckily technology has caught up with memories and opened the door to carrying thousands of photos and hundreds of videos of my family in the palm of my hand. A comfortable pillow goes without saying as most tour buses have really crappy bedding. Besides my personal gear, Clear Tune in-ear Monitors, Audio Technica mic, and Starr custom mic stand, I don’t plan on bringing much else. Stage clothes of course and plenty of socks and underwear. I’ll also have a ProTools rig with me the whole time as I am producing/engineering several sessions through this summer and I cannot afford to slack off. I am very lucky and grateful to have a lucrative production career aside from being the vocalist in a band. Some of the bands I am working with are really amazing up and coming acts: Serosia, Brothers of Alien Rock, and Black Oil.

The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival makes a stop in 26 cities this year across the USA. What is the city or venue you are most looking forward to playing and why?

All of them! I honestly couldn’t choose a favorite. With so much on the line and especially with our new album releasing this summer, I want to make our label Victory Records and our fans proud at every single show. Every city is on our radar and the GPS is targeting all of you equally, get ready and bring some dancing shoes!

What bands are you big fans of that are also on the tour and what band are you most interested in watching play live this summer?

A lot of great bands on the festival this year. Certainly looking forward to hanging out with my boys in Emmure. Also my good friends in Suicide Silence. Can’t say enough great things about our brothers in Korn, they have always put on great shows. Also looking forward to seeing our boys in Trivium and Upon A Burning Body rip it up. It will be cool to see veterans Cannibal Corpse ripping it up, though I am pretty certain I say that mostly due to the death-monger nostalgia I haven’t been able to shake off since the early 90’s.

What is next for Ill Niño after Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival ends in August?

We have a bunch of international touring planned for this year. We will be making our way back to South America, Europe, Russia, and Central America before Christmas. We might be considering another American tour should the proper opportunity arise. At the moment some things are uncertain as we are getting ready to release this new album, we will have to follow the demand. We will do the best we can to bring some Latin metal your way! See you this summer!!

2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival Tour Dates:

July 05 – San Bernardino, CA – San Manuel Amphitheater
July 06 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
July 08 – Auburn, WA – White River Amphitheatre
July 09 – Nampa, ID – Idaho Center Amphitheatre
July 11 – Phoenix, AZ – Ak-Chin Pavilion
July 12 – Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheatre
July 14 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
July 15 – Maryland Heights, MO – Verizion Wireless Amphitheater
July 17 – Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre
July 18 – Milwaukee, WI – Eagle’s Ballroom
July 19 – Noblesville, IN – Klipsch Music Center
July 20 – Tinley Park, IL – First Midwest Bank Ampitheatre

July 23 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Saratoga Performing Arts Center
July 24 – Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Theatre
July 25 – Toronto, ON – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
July 26 – Burgettstown, PA – First Niagara Pavilion
July 27 – Hartford, CT – Xfinity Theatre
July 29 – Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake PAC
July 30 – Wantagh, NY – Nikon Theater at Jones Beach
August 01 – Camden, NJ – Susquehanna Bank Center
August 02 – Scranton, PA – Toyota Pavilion
August 03 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live
August 05 – Atlanta, GA – Lakewood Amphitheatre
August 07 – Oklahoma City, OK – OKC Downtown Airpark
August 09 – Dallas, TX – Gexa Energy Pavilion
August 10 – The Woodlands, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

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